Nigella Seeds

Black Cumin

Nigetta Seeds also known as Black Cumin

Today is a great day to review what we know about Nigella Seeds.  Nigella seeds are considered to be a spice and are harvested from the Nigella sativa plant. That plant is mainly grown  in Egypt and in India. The seeds are slightly pungent and have an onion-like smell, although they are not related to the onion. Nigella seeds, are sometimes confused for black sesame seeds but have a decidedly different shape. Black sesame are gently rounded while nigella seeds have sharp edges and are triangle-shaped.  The flavor of the Nigella seed has been described as smoky and peppery. They impart a flavor combination reminiscent of black pepper and onion with a hint of oregano and have a bitterness to them like mustard seeds. It can be used as a “pepper” in recipes with vegetables, salads and poultry.

In India, they often sprinkle them on naan or Indian flat bread. A five spice mix common in Bengal called panch phoran will include these seeds as one of the five spices; mixing them with fennel, cumin, fenugreek and mustard seeds. Following the lead of Indian chefs, I like to use this mixture to flavor fish or vegetables, particularly eggplant. It would seem that eggplant and nigella seeds are made for each other.

In my research on this seed I found that it has called by many different names such as black cumin, black mustard and black sesame seeds. It  appears that the Nigella seed does belong to the cumin family and is  known as black cumin in English-speaking countries. Black cumin is mentioned in the bible (Isaiah 28: 25, 27) and it is reported that Nigella seeds were found in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun. I have also read a quote that is derived from the Holy Quran when the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, that says “Use the Black Seed for indeed, it is a cure for every disease except death”  So while there is not a lot of history, the history we can find gives this seed a pretty good pedigree.

If it is not among your spices, you might want to get some and try adding it to your eggplant recipes.  The seeds are quite hard, but you don’t need to grind them because the heat from cooking opens the seed and releases its flavor. That said, I do grand my five spice mixture and add it to my sandwich dressing to kick it up a tad.

The seeds will keep up to a year when placed inside an airtight container and stored in a cool dark place (Along with all those other spices, that so many people mistakenly store over their stoves.)

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Eat Healthy, Laugh Often and Enjoy Life~

Healthy Food choices






Eat Healthy, Laugh Often and Enjoy Life~

Healthy Food choices

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10 Responses to Nigella Seeds

  1. Caro Ness

    Are they easy to come by?
    Caro Ness recently posted..Divine KnitsMy Profile

  2. Wish I’d known this Saturday when I was cooking eggplant. Although I’m wondering about availability and … COST???

    And yes, I keep my spices in a dark space but maybe not so cool…. Thinking….
    Carolina HeartStrings recently posted..WINDOW BOXES CHARLESTON STYLEMy Profile

    • Chef William says:

      Heat can kill the flavor of a spice if left there long. I have seen the fancy spice racks
      that some people keep near the stove and wonder just how old and tasteless the spices
      must be. A pinch of fresh spice is worth a tablespoon full of old spice. The cost is not
      bad. Look for it in Indian or Middle Eastern Stores.
      Chef William recently posted..Nigella SeedsMy Profile

  3. That last paragraph is key…
    The ultimate in short shelf-life!
    Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA recently posted..Doctor, Doctor, Mr. MD, Can You Tell Me What’s Ailing Me?My Profile

    • Chef William says:

      Yes Roy and I do tend to over shop when I am in a spice shop. My mind goes nuts and I
      start thinking of all the things I am going to cook.Of course I completely forget that
      my wife and I are now “empty nesters” and there won’t be any way to use up what I but
      on a timely basis.
      Chef William recently posted..Nigella SeedsMy Profile

  4. Amy

    I have many questions for you, Chef.
    *Are these the same seeds as the tiny black round ones in my canary’s feed?
    *Is your five-spice blend the same as that of the Bengalese? (That might be an interesting post–it would be a quick spice-related post and you’d have all your readers racing to the store to grab the five spices)
    *What is fenugreek?
    *I live under a rock in the vast Nebraska prairie. There are no Middle Eastern stores out here! I’ll have to just pick the nigella out of my canary seed, I’m thinking, when my eggplant is is full production and I’m looking for another way to cook it. Oh wait. That wasn’t a question.
    *Do you grow eggplant, and what are your favorite varieties? And what is your favorite way to cook it? I have a hard time getting my family to eat eggplant.
    Amy recently posted..A note about raising boysMy Profile

    • Chef William says:

      Oh wow, I’m going to take this one step at a time, I have emailed you a great eggplant recipe,
      watch for tomorrows blog post that will be about fenugreek and I’ll go from there.
      Chef William recently posted..Nigella SeedsMy Profile

  5. Ah nigella seeds, wonderful and an essential in authentic Indian cooking. Aubergines taste glorious with this wonderful spice. I am going to get some from my local asian supermarket tonight!
    Anita-Clare Field recently posted..Enogastronomical Tour of Italy Part 1 – TuscanyMy Profile

    • Chef William says:

      With all the snow we’re having in my area, a nice spicy Indian meal would
      go well right now. Sadly, I don’t have time to cook one today, I’m on the
      snow shovel. My wife did make a wonder lentil soup and I have some rustic
      sour dough bread, so I’m ready for the job ahead.
      Chef William recently posted..Nigella SeedsMy Profile

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